Saturday, September 28, 2013

My Fun Discovery

My friend Anna from high school turned Raleigh friend randomly Facebook messaged me last week. She included a friend of hers in the message - a friend who had lived in Raleigh for 5 years then moved to NYC two weeks after I did. She suggested we connect - and we did! Winter and I met at Gallery Church and decided we should be friends. We also have several friends in common, as well as a mutual Raleigh bond, so we hit it off. After exploring Chinatown together (and helping her score a great bag - I do love bargaining. Reminds me of being in a foreign country) we decided the next step in our bonding process should be: Target. Winter has a car, so getting there would be much easier and I could buy the heavy necessities like laundry detergent and milk. I was looking up directions for the closest Target and that is when I found it, lighting up the dark like a text message late at night; there's a Target in the Bronx. And it is only a mile and a half from my house. I could have fainted. Here I was thinking East Harlem was the closest, and venturing to Brooklyn would be safest and there was one a mile and a half away. Now granted, without the car that would be a good 3-mile walk round trip, but I was unfazed.*
As we returned to my house, a guy standing in the street around the corner from my house flagged us down. My instinct was - "don't stop! It's dark!" but Winter's kind heart slowed down and rolled down her window. His car was dead and his pregnant girlfriend was with her sister on their way to the hospital because she started having contractions. He said he'd been trying to get someone to stop for a good 30 minutes and no one had. We got to talk to him as we charged his car (yes, I do know how to do that. Blame having driven really old cars for years) and I saw my neighborhood with new eyes. There has been a softening towards towards the Bronx in the last month of living there, and connecting with a neighbor finally made it feel more familiar. Winter asked if we could pray for him and for his girlfriend before we drove off - and he gave us his number because he wants us to meet the baby when he is born. I actually texted him this morning - the baby did not come that night but he will keep us posted. What a blessing to get to meet him and serve him in that way. Thank you Winter for your servant's heart and for taking time to stop and help someone in need.
I write this from my house in Raleigh - it's strange being here as a guest and not as a resident. I realize how much I've missed everyone and the familiarity that is born through years of deeply cultivating friendships and community. But I also feel refreshed and know that I can go back to NYC carrying their love and friendship back with me as I start pouring into new people.
I also think this video is hilarious. Examining how ridiculous our societal use of hashtags is. #hashtag:

*Now I really feel the need to examine why there's such a relief at finding a Target so close to me. I grew up without one. Went to undergrad without one. It's only been in the last 5 years in Raleigh that this addiction has started and grown. I just see that red and white bullseye and I salivate like the dog they use in Beggin' Strips commercials. Perhaps this is an analysis for another day.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I Shook Hands with Jimmy Fallon...

...which was cool. I got a free ticket (thanks Emily) to the Thursday afternoon recording of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Guest star Hugh Jackman? Yeah, that was pretty great. And we got front row seats. Sadly, my debut on camera fell through. I am not that visible on screen, but I knew I was there so it counts!

I've had a busy week. I realized that yesterday was the 4 week mark of the move. I can't believe I've been here 4 weeks already!
I had my meeting with World Vision on Wednesday and it went really well- there may be a potential job for me! I have to follow the proper channels of applying and honestly, I think it may a long shot, but it's something! I am not going to complain. As soon as I know something I will let you know. Please be praying that the Lord will allow me this opportunity, and if not this that I will be content and rest in Him and His plan.

I have also started to compile a list of Crazy Customers that I have encountered in NYC thus far. I will be adding to this as I encounter more of them. Here are a few for your Sunday reading.

1. The Boozer: This customer bought one plastic mini $.74 funnel that he waited in line for about 20 minutes to purchase. He mentioned how glad he was to have found the funnel, so I asked him why. To which he responded, "I am going on a cruise, and the beer on cruises is crap and expensive. I can't bring my own on board, so I bought a bunch of catheter bags and I'm going to funnel my booze into the bags and strap them to me as I board the boat. I mean, who is going to question a dude with catheters, right?" And then he laughed loudly, thinking he was very clever. WOW! Drink much?

2. The Druggie: A man came in and bought 3 of our tiny plastic boxes. It was kind of a strange purchase, and I thought there may be a cute story; my daughter just lost some teeth so we'll put them in here for the tooth fairy, I collect buttons, etc. No. He told me he was buying them to fill with hash that he got as a gift (he specified that he was not, in fact, a drug dealer, but someone gave it to him as a present) and he was going to re-gift some to his friends. I wish I hadn't asked. The kids with the teeth were a much better picture.

3. The Helpless One: A woman purchased 4 very light tint stacking drawers, weighing in total about 5 pounds. She wanted me to discount one for a faint scratch. Then verbalized for 5 minutes how unsure she was about being able to carry them home and she wasn't sure what to do. I finally asked her if she wanted to make the purchase. "Yes. But I will need you to carry them out of the store for me. And I guess I should get a cab, because I can't carry these. I'm not a man." I rolled my eyes. I'm not known for my strength, but a toddler could have carried these. So she forced me to single handedly carry them outside for her. She then complained that she couldn't hail a cab. So I did that for her too. Then she claimed she couldn't open the trunk. I stared at her for a second in disbelief then opened the trunk. Then she complained that the trunk was dirty. I smiled and said, "well have a good evening. I have to get back inside." I hope she was able to figure out how to open the door and get inside the cab. Maybe she's still standing on the curb trying to work out how to open the door...

4. The Interior Decorator: I checked out a seemingly normal customer last weekend. I bagged up her items in our standard paper bag (we have several different colors and I believe I gave her a green one). She hesitated for a moment then whispered across the counter, "can I have a blue bag please? It's just, I may not get around to putting this stuff away tonight, and if I have to leave it out overnight, I need it to match my room. Green just clashes." Who is coming to look at her room overnight? Who would care if her shopping bag matched her room? Maybe her room was being featured on HGTV...? I fulfilled her request, but I'm still puzzled by it.

So that's been this week. I'm headed to Raleigh on Wednesday evening (Yay for Paige & Aaron's wedding) and I hope I will get to see some of you while I'm there.

Love from NYC.

 After Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
 The Empire State Building at sunset

Monday, September 16, 2013

12 days

It's been 12 days since I last posted! What is wrong with me? Well, sit back, grab some coffee and let's dive in.

Ideas are often really good in theory - and sketchy in actuality. So when I had the thought that I should go up to Massachusetts for a few days, visit my parents (and grandmother, who is here from England) and also pack a suitcase with some winter clothing, I thought I was quite brilliant. I didn't have work, so I booked a Megabus ticket and set out with my large, empty suitcase. Pulling it through the subway turnstalls and then dragging it a mile to Megabus meeting spot wasn't hard. Yet, as I was doing those things I thought about the return trip. I shrugged it off and decided it couldn't be that bad.
I had a wonderful visit with my family. I got to see an old battleship off the coast of Mass (my dad was like a kid in a candy shop and he showed me all around these old ships and I had so much fun exploring with him) and on Saturday we went to an aquarium where I touched a starfish and a crab. My grandmother bought me a lovely winter coat. We went to Target and I loaded up on the "essentials" (thanks Lisa & Andrew for my gift card)! My mom and I loaded up quilts, coats, sweaters, boots and other things into this suitcase, which I eyed skeptically the more full it became...
Sunday morning dawned bright and early - I caught the 6 a.m return bus and fortunately made it back in time to attend corporate worship at Gallery that morning. It wasn't a problem walking half a block to the church building from the bus. And I tried to discreetly hide the bulging suitcase and messenger bag I brought in a corner. But you can't hide forever. Oh yes, I tried to sneak out after service and head back with this big bag, but I ended up chatting and then - YIKES!- agreeing to go to lunch with some people. With my huge suitcase. I may have dislocated my elbow pulling this suitcase behind me and carrying a messenger bag and tote. I walked 8 blocks to get to lunch - which put me 8 blocks further away from my subway station. Alas, hunger won over pride, and so I walked the distance. Others had gone before me, so apart from one girl who walked with me (and helped carry a bag) I was going solo. I did discover it's easier to push the suitcase rather than pull.
I was laughing at how ridiculous the situation was and internally panicking about the impending trip back to the Bronx and the 7 blocks uphill. Someone threw out the suggestion that I get a taxi to take me to the subway, but I scoffed. What a waste of money! And also, I've seen some scrappy New Yorkers (remember all those people carrying home goods a million and one blocks?). Do you know of a better way to develop those New York muscles than to lug 50 pounds through the streets of Manhattan?
Well I'll have you all know, someone from lunch just happened to be going to the same train as me. And as it would be rude to refuse help, I allowed him to develop his New York muscles by wheeling my suitcase the 15 or so blocks to the train.  I learned that an emergency door can be opened in the subway station and large bags can be brought through. An alarm will sound, but worse things have happened.  There was no way that suitcase was going through a turn stall!! And yes, I made it back alive. I'm sure you were all very concerned for a moment. A girl helped me get my bag down the steps of the subway and I slowly but surely lugged that stupid bag uphill 7 blocks. Honestly, I still don't know what made it so heavy. Could be the heating blanket. Or the boots. Perhaps the coats? Or the 5 lb "necessary" bottle of lotion I purchased at Target...? All in all, the experience was hilarious, ridiculous, and just so... me!

Concluding points/summations: 

~I am still on the job search. I have applied for several different jobs and I'm just waiting. Which is when I get the most impatient and usually grow the most in my trust of God and His plan.
~My small group launches tomorrow night. It's at 7:30 in Gramercy. I'm excited to get to know a group of people at Gallery and learn and grow together. Gallery has yearly groups, so they change frequently which will be a change from what I'm used to (this is my shameless IDC Growth Group shout-out. I miss y'all. Who are you making gluten free food for now?!?). Also thank you for putting together a care package for me! M&M's, sweet cards and a splash guard for my Nalgene. You all know me so well ;-)
~The weather has been heavenly! I did some see colors on a tree the other day.
~It was Fashion Week here.I noticed some men wearing skirts/dresses/tunics.* I'm not making it up.
~The 12 year anniversary of 9-11 was last Wednesday. The city seemed quieter. Reflective. I still haven't been down to the WTC site yet, but I plan to soon. 
~My friend Emily has tickets to see Jimmy Fallon recording on Thursday. She may have an extra ticket; and if she does I will be going. Perk of unemployment-ish.
~I am also meeting with my World Vision connection Wednesday at 2 p.m. Prayers are appreciated and I will keep everyone updated on that.
 ~I also read 3 books in 4 days. I'm a voracious reader but I think that sets a new personal record. I read the Hunger Games - and you should too and then you can call me and we'll talk about them, okay? And if you want to plan a strategic time to come visit NYC, the second movie comes out Nov 22, so we can go together.**

That's the last 12 days. Your coffee is either gone or cold by now. Don't be ashamed to get a second cup. It's my favorite part of the morning.

Instagram feeds to follow:

*for some info, follow this link:

**In case I failed to convince you, view this and you'll be on your way!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"the one who tires of New York City is tired of life..."*

John D. Rockefeller, Jr single-handedly financed the building of Rockefeller Center, which was completed in 1930. It was supposed to be an opera house, but due to the market crash of 1929, he made it instead, what it is today. If you've never been to Rockefeller Center in Midtown, I strongly recommend it. It's one of my favorite areas in Manhattan. You may be familiar with the ice rink and a large tree in the Christmas season; or NBC studios from the show 30 Rock (thanks Tina & Alec). There also happens to be a fabulous Anthropologie right across the street, a Long Champs, Lego store and the Magnolia Bakery at the end of the block and Radio City Music Hall is across from the building.

This is where I wound up in the later part of this afternoon. I worked an early shift this morning and after leaving work at 12:30 I had plans to meet a friend at 5:30 in the same part of the city. I debated riding the train back up to the Bronx an hour and come back in the later afternoon to meet her. I wasn't feeling well, so that was my original plan. However, after I swiped my metro card in the turn stall, and before I went through, a lady who was lost stopped to ask me directions. By the time I gave her directions**, the turn stall had locked and I was unable to re-swipe my card (this prevents the same card being used by multiple people within a certain time frame). So, I decided to roam. I walked over to Central Park and ate on a rock looking at part of the skyline while I finished my book. Then I decided I would go to the Fashion Institute of Technology, because they have a free museum (thanks Jennifer for the link to all the FREE stuff in Manhattan). The museum was great, but sadly not very long (Elizabeth M, you would have loved this. Runway clothes and the "evolution" of style. We'll have to go when you come up)!
I got myself purposefully lost in Herald Sq station, but found a DSW on the way out and decided to browse the shoes for fun (see a picture below). By this time it was 4pm so I went over to Rockefeller Center, near the place I was meeting Emily for coffee (Gregory's Coffee). It was as I was sitting there by a fountain that I wrote the following in my journal. I will now share it with you:

"New Yorkers are scrappy. It's great to watch. No wonder they are proud! They get knocked down and get right back up. They're unstoppable and have this indomitable spirit. They are strong, they carry everything around all day long! They walk around in different shoes, and run to catch a subway or taxi. They walk fast and they try to find peace amidst the crowded chaos. There is a vibrancy in this place that I am now calling "home." The locals all seem to have a love-hate relationship with the city. To quote a New Yorker: "I hate that I had to barrel down a 7o-year old man to get to the subway in time, but I love that he understood why I had to." That about sums it up. 8 million people live here; between 13-15 million are in the city on a daily basis. I'm sitting in Rockefeller Ctr now as I write watching people walk by. I find beauty in the bustle, the tall buildings fill me with excitement. I feel honored to be part of that 8 million today. Regardless of how long this adventure in NYC lasts, I will not regret my time here. I am overwhelmed by how God has brought my dream together. A co-worker passingly asked "how's life- livin' the dream?" to which I responded "New York IS the dream." It is. I have spent 3 years imagining what it would be like to live here; to carry literally everything for the whole day with me, to break for lunch in Central Park, commute on the subway, walk fast through a blinking intersection, how to get groceries, hear the roar of traffic, walk amongst skyscrapers. And God in His grace said "go for it." So I am. Every crowded subway, my sore feet and back, sweat, heavy bags, wind-blown hair, every pigeon-filled moment is making my dream an actuality. I am thankful. Maybe one day I'll be a 70-year old woman knocked out of the way by someone jumping on the subway. And I will smile because I understand. Maybe."

*Mozzie to Neal in White Collar. I've yet to decide if this is true
**I'm giving directions to people already? Wow, does this make me a true New Yorker? ;-)

Somewhere along 5th Ave

What I saw perched on the rock reading my book in Central Park

A familiar site - to the L Central Park in the winter of 2010, to the R, late summer 2013

Yes. You're seeing this correctly. Sale priced at $599. Yes, I tried them on. No, they were not comfortable. I'm going to start a shoe line called CocoBird and they will be made with shards of glass and cost $800. They will come in 3 colors.

Walked past a Starbucks and saw this guy staring at me. The historian in me wants to know what this used to be!

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Last night I drifted off to sleep to the sounds of a violin, drums and a keyboard drifting up towards my window (open, of course, because there's no AC and it's stifling upstairs if they're closed). Aaah, the sweet sounds of the Bronx at night. As I type this I can hear kids yelling, a basketball pounding the pavement and women chattering. This is a very colorful place!
This morning I went back to Gallery Church, thinking fondly of my IDC Raleigh family and missing them like crazy. But building community takes time and the people of GC are wonderful. After service we went to a Thai restaurant called Spice and I got to know many people my age - one whom is named, of all things, Raleigh - and another three who are from the Raleigh area. What what, 9-1-9!
The message today was on human trafficking, and GC's involvement with an organization called RestoreNYC. I actually looked into interning with them right before I moved up here, so it's nice that my attention has been brought back to this organization. One of the guys at GC is involved in this ministry and when I mentioned my desire to use photojournalism as a way of raising awareness of social injustices, he mentioned I can probably help him with stuff! There is a meeting Thursday night that I am planning on attending so I can learn more about Restore and ways that I can contribute. I'm very excited about this potential opportunity.

I also discovered today that a bag of M&Ms is $6.15! And I am having major Target withdrawals. There is ONE in Manhattan - and it's in East Harlem. I've been told to avoid that area at all costs. So short of you guys mailing me some things (clothes, shoes, M&Ms, home goods, razors, shampoo and just the general wonderfulness of "Tar-jay" - which IS a quirky and pretentious way of referring to my addiction) I think I may have to start online shopping. Which is a dangerous game, my friends, as I am the queen of returns and will not be able to make said returns. Lest I venture to East Harlem and never return. No, but for real... ;-)